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New Processor Is Software-Configurable

From the Stretch Inc. press release:

Stretch Inc., a fabless semiconductor company, today announced the S5000 family of software-configurable processors-the first to embed powerful programmable logic within an off-the-shelf processor-and a comprehensive suite of development tools that enable developers to automatically configure and optimize the processor using only their C/C++ code. Stretch’s software-configurable processors can be tailored quickly and easily to address compute-intensive applications in markets as diverse as consumer, telecommunications, networking, medical and military.

Stretch’s S5000 software-configurable processors combine the best of two previously divergent semiconductor worlds-the ease of software development associated with GPPs (general-purpose processors) and DSPs, with the parallelism and flexibility of FPGAs. Stretch achieves this by embedding programmable logic entirely inside the processor architecture-an industry first.

Every S5000 processor chip is powered by the Stretch(tm) S5 engine, which incorporates the widely accepted Tensilica Xtensa RISC processor core and the powerful Stretch Instruction Set Extension Fabric (ISEF). The ISEF is a software-configurable data-path based on proprietary programmable logic. Using the ISEF, system designers extend the processor instruction set and define the new instructions using only their C/C++ code. As a result, developers get the performance of logic with C/C++ development simplicity-achieving unprecedented performance, easy and rapid development and significant cost savings.

The Need for a New Kind of Processor
Today, embedded system developers are forced to make painful compromises when addressing compute-intensive applications. Their choices include using banks of DSPs or GPPs, resulting in costly and difficult-to-program multiprocessor systems; selecting fixed-function chips, which do not allow them to address changing standards or differentiate their products; or mixing processors and FPGAs or ASICs, which requires the design of custom hardware, greatly increasing time-to-market and development costs.

“With the introduction of the Stretch S5000 family of software-configurable processors, embedded system developers no longer need to trade-off performance, time-to-market and system costs,” said Gary Banta, Stretch CEO. “Developers program and automatically configure our processors using pure C/C++, achieving unprecedented performance, easy and rapid development, tremendous cost savings, and the flexibility to address diverse markets and changing application needs.”

Stretch: First Company to Embed Programmable Logic within a Processor
By embedding powerful programmable logic within a processor, Stretch has uniquely combined the best qualities of GPPs, DSPs, ASPs (application-specific processors), FPGAs and ASICs-creating an off-the-shelf processor chip that can cost-effectively address virtually any compute-intensive application. With Stretch’s new processors, embedded system designers can bypass painful trade-offs between flexibility, performance, cost and time-to-market.

Stretch’s software-configurable processors and software development tools provide significant breakthroughs and advantages:

  • Flexibility: For the first time, developers use C/C++ not only to program the processor but also to create new instructions ideally matched to their applications’ needs.
    • Stretch’s S5000 family of chips can be quickly tailored by the system developer to address multiple markets and diverse applications.
    • Developers can respond to emerging standards, add new features and support new algorithms-without starting their designs over from scratch.
    • Developers are able to “future-proof” their systems, building in support for field upgrades to adjust to new standards, extend the life of their products, and achieve greater product differentiation.

  • Performance: Conventional wisdom is that clock rate determines processor performance